Dwight Howard, who preferred Phil Jackson, might not have been thrilled when the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni as coach, but D'Antoni has won Howard's affection, according to Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times. Elliott also notes that Howard has overcome his objection to following Shaquille O'Neal's path to L.A. "But then once I got here, I just felt like there was no need to worry about people saying I'm following somebody else, but I could blaze my own trail while I'm here, and that's what I plan on doing," Howard said. We rounded up a few D12 items earlier this evening, and now we have more on Howard's team and their Western Conference rivals.
- By signing a one-year deal last season instead of a two-year pact that wasn't fully guaranteed, Darius Morris took a risk that paid off when he signed his qualifying offer this summer, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times details. The point guard, pressed into starting duty for the Lakers, said he'd love to stay in L.A., but left the door open for another outcome when he hits restricted free agency next summer.
- Mark Heisler of HoopsHype lays out an agenda for the Lakers in the coming years, one that starts with re-signing Howard.
- Ben Golliver of Blazer's Edge provides a transcript of new Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan's interview with announcers Mike Barrett and Mike Rice on Blazers Courtside. McGowan reiterated that he's staying out of the team's basketball operations.
- Facing the stress of an impending tug-of-war in restricted free agency over the summer, Nicolas Batum gained perspective from a visit to his ancestral home country of Cameroon last spring, as he told Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.
- HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy runs down players who've been pleasant surprises so far. A third of the list is composed of newcomers to Western Conference teams.